Newborn Brain Injury Due To Delayed Delivery
Lawsuit Against Cooper University Hospital
On August 9, 2022, WVFK&N attorneys Christopher Norman and Greg Kirby filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a newborn who suffered an avoidable brain injury.
The complaint alleges that on March 21, 2019, at 5:00 a.m., the baby’s mother, who was pregnant at the time, experienced a spontaneous rupture of the membranes of her amniotic sac. The mother was taken by ambulance to Cooper University Hospital (“CUH”) and arrived at or about 6:24 a.m. At 6:26 a.m., the patient was hooked up to a fetal heart monitor to monitor contractions and the baby’s health. At or around 8:00 a.m., the mother was triaged by the L&D triage unit. A history and physical exam showed that contractions had begun 1-2 hours previously and were regular in frequency and moderate in severity. Fetal activity was noted to be normal. There was no vaginal bleeding, and the amniotic fluid character was noted to be clear. The electronic fetal monitor tracing was read as “normal” with a baseline of 150 bpm, moderate variability, positive accelerations, and no decelerations. It was determined that the mother would be admitted to the L&D service once a bed became available. Throughout the morning of March 21, 2019, the health care providers generally noted normal fetal heart monitor tracings that were reassuring. At about 12:12 p.m., the mother was noted to be dilated 2 cm, 80 percent effaced, and the baby’s head was at station (-2). As such, she was noted to be remote from delivery. At about 3:38 p.m., she was still remote from delivery. Pitocin was started at that point to augment labor. The rate of Pitocin was steadily increased over the subsequent hours. Starting at about 9:30 p.m. on March 21, 2019, the fetal heart tracings worsened. At 11:54 p.m., Pitocin was stopped. On March 22, 2019, at 12:24 a.m., the mother was again given Pitocin to augment labor at a rate of 2 mU/minute. At or about 12:35 a.m., a doctor said that Pitocin could be stopped, which appears to have been turned off at about 12:40 a.m. At or about 12:40 a.m., the fetal heart tracings continued to show results that should have been non-reassuring and the medical records note that the strip was classified as a Category 2. The mother was still remote from delivery. At about 2:40 a.m., the fetal heart tracings continued to be non-reassuring and were classified as Category 2. The mother was still remote from delivery as her cervix was 9 cm dilated, 90 percent effaced, and the baby’s head was at station (0). At 3:25 a.m., the doctor restarted Pitocin at a rate of 2 mU/minute, despite the non-reassuring fetal heart tracings. At 5:00 a.m., the doctor increased the Pitocin to 4 mU/minute, despite the non-reassuring fetal heart tracings. At 5:30 a.m., the cervix progressed to 10 cm dilated and 100 percent effaced. The baby’s head was noted to be at station (+2). As such, she was entering the second stage of labor. Fetal heart tracings remained non-reassuring. At 8:20 a.m., the Pitocin was increased to 4 mU/minute in an effort to continue to augment labor. As of 8:30 a.m., the baby was not progressing. The mother was experiencing a prolonged second stage of labor, three hours after it started. Fetal heart tracings remained non-reassuring. By 10:02 a.m., after the mother had been in the second stage of labor for nearly five (5) hours, the doctors decided to attempt a forceps assisted vaginal delivery. The baby’s head was noted to be at station (+2) with a right occiput transverse head position. Another doctor was asked to assist with the forceps to rotate the baby’s head. The forceps were inserted, but the doctor was unable to articulate the two forceps blades together. As such the first attempt was aborted. At 10:11 a.m., the doctor made a second attempt to elevate the baby’s head and rotate it clockwise to the ROA position. While he was able to articulate the blades of the forceps together, he was unable to “substantially rotate” the baby’s head. The forceps were removed, and the mother was asked to start pushing again. At 10:24 a.m., the baby was delivered at 37 weeks gestational age. The baby was born limp and depressed and had assisted APGAR scores of 3, 6 and 7 at 1, 5 and 10 minutes, respectively. Shortly thereafter, the baby suffered from seizures. Subsequent brain imaging was consistent with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy from injury in the intrapartum period shortly before delivery. As a result, the baby remains permanently and severely disabled with severe brain damage, extensive physical and cognitive developmental delays, and other permanent disabilities and problems.
The lawsuit alleges that the injuries were a result of the negligence of Cooper University Hospital and its employees in failing to timely respond to concerning clinical signs and failing to timely deliver the baby and in negligently delivering the baby with forceps.
The action is pending in the Superior Court for Camden County, New Jersey.